New Tool Helps Foley Rightsize Work for Associates

02 May 2022 Foley Career Perspectives Blog
Author(s): Rebecca S. Bradley

When it comes to the growth and development of associates, there’s no substitute for the experience and mentoring gained through hands-on client work. But ensuring the equitable allocation of work and training across attorneys using traditional methods is a well-known challenge for the legal industry.

The traditional methods used for allocating work can create inequity in the utilization of associates. Overutilization is often linked to burnout, while underutilization can result in missed opportunities to learn and grow. Foley Engage provides clear data to help guide staffing decisions on matters.” Director of Professional Development Rebecca Bradley said.

Foley took on this challenge in 2021, rolling out Foley Engage to a number of the firm’s practice groups. This new utilization system allows leaders, assigning attorneys, and the firm’s Professional Development team to collect, sort, and view real-time data on associate workloads and interests.

As highlighted in our Legal Talent & Development 2021 Year in Review, Foley Engage uses data to match people with projects that align with their skill sets, interests, and capacity, helping level the playing field for the firm’s associates.

“Foley Engage gives us a view into the volume and type of work an associate wants directed their way as well as into their career progression. It helps us ensure all of our associates are consistently getting quality work and development opportunities,” Director of Professional Development Rebecca Bradley explained. Associates in those groups that have implemented Foley Engage are regularly prompted to input their availability and areas of interest. The groups then use this data to make more thoughtful decisions about who gets staffed on each new project that comes in. Instantly, those responsible for allocating work know which associates are available and what types of skills they want to hone.

“The insight Foley Engage provides is helpful for knowing when we need to provide additional training, better mentorship, or other support resources to keep our associates on track with their professional development goals,” Foley Partner Chris Rasmussen said. This includes directing work to those who may need more or different opportunities, as well as steering work away from those who already have a full plate. 

“Implementing a more data-driven utilization system is a meaningful response to the knowledge that implicit bias exists and can result in disparities in work allocation between men and women or between white associates and associates of color, for example. Not just at Foley, but in the legal industry at large,” Chief Diversity & Inclusion Partner Eileen Ridley said. Foley Engage will soon be implemented across more of the firm’s practice groups, widening groups’ and offices’ staffing pools and helping them support, develop, and retain their junior talent.

"We care about the growth and development of all of our attorneys, and we want our associates to have a long, fulfilling career here,” Bradley said. “Being more intentional in how we staff matters is one way to help ensure success at the firm."

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Author(s)

Rebecca S. Bradley

Director of Professional Development